Teachers Act Up!

Thoughts on Teaching, Language, and Social Change from Melisa "Misha" Cahnmann-Taylor

“Yeah, I won’t do public school. We are highly opposed.”

“Yeah, I won’t do public school. We are highly opposed.”

This was just published on a local mommy blog I belong to.  It was posted by a parent looking for Pre-K options if “money were no object” and getting ideas.  I added they should try the lottery for public school and if they don’t get in, choose private.  This spawned another parent’s response.  “I would sit in before going public. I’m a public school teacher and my kids will go private” with the following explanation:

“In private school the discipline needed for a school to run well is allowed. In public school it is not. If private schools paid well with the benefits of public, I would still be teaching private.”

Gosh, I wish a private school could pay her enough to leave her public school classroom….

The ‘public’ school is required to serve all children and that means there can certainly be discipline problems.  This teacher-parent later acknowledged that private schools are hardly immune to discipline problems but that they are much less “extreme.” So what is it about public education to which so many parents are highly opposed when children are as little as four years old?

Children who look different.

Children who don’t have as many financial resources.

Children who don’t have two parents at home.

Children who don’t have generational income or more than enough resources.

Children who don’t speak English as a first language.

Children who don’t have a parent in jail.

Children who don’t have a parent who has died.

Children whose home nurturing doesn’t match as neatly with school expectations.

Children who are resilient, children who are different, children who are invited into the public system.

Thank goodness for US policies and laws that welcome all these children and more into the public system.  What a great country we have when all children can expect to have access to a good education and that parents who want to opt out, can certainly do so. I love sending my children to a public school and giving them access to experiencing all kinds of diversities that may not be present in private options: neurodiversity, racial diversity, social class diversity, religious diversity, gender and sexual orientation diversity, marriage diversity, etc.. My public school is a “good” school, more so because there are happy teachers; there is diversity of many kinds; and lots of parents with resources who give extra in numerous ways.  Not all public schools are so wonderful, I know that.  I am privileged by my resources and neighborhood.

If parents do have extra resources and choose a private school, I am all about choice (of many kinds)! Parents can choose private school and still support public schools too!  Anyone can attend a neighborhood school’s social events and get to know one’s neighbors and community. One can pay private school tuition and give a little extra to the local public school’s PTO/PTA to improve school resources. One can visit and observe pre-K and other grade level classes at the public school, and make as informed a decision as one can before opting out to private school education–the public option may be better than one thinks! Finally, if one decides to go private, one can ask good questions about diversity in that environment: what can be done better so that all kids have access to diverse perspectives even if they are limited in what may be a more homogenous, private school environment?

Check out this awesome blog post by a Los Angeles teacher–really wonderful points discussed in relation to the Charter school movement out there.

https://integratedschools.org/2018/01/23/skin-in-the-game-an-open-letter-to-the-mostly-white-parents-in-my-hometown-on-how-to-be-the-change-in-2018/

The above blog is directed to “mostly white parents” so if you do not identify as white, I think this may not be as much interest as some of the work by Nikole Hannah-Jones about race and education specifically.

https://www.tolerance.org/magazine/spring-2017/conversations-arent-enough

Coda: I am not changing anyone’s mind.  Anyone who believes public school = bad; private school = better, I think it’s terrific they can have that option.  But I don’t wish that option be such a financial burden that parents resent paying taxes to support their public school or vote for more resources to be funneled into private or private-like options.  I wish parents, regardless of school choice, could see support of public education as  public good that in the long run will help their child and community more than they know.

View story at Medium.com

View story at Medium.com

View story at Medium.com

View story at Medium.com

 

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